Peace at Home

December 2023

Each year at this time high-rise and condominium communities bring out their Christmas decorations.

In 2021, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal was asked to decide if Christmas decorations are discriminatory. One non-Christian high-rise condominium owner argued that Christmas symbols were Christian religious symbols being given greater prominence over other religious celebrations during the same time of the year, and that she was being treated as a second-class citizen. She objected to lights on “Christmas trees”, red poinsettias and the “Christmas Holiday Fund” donations for the staff.

The owner believed the Corporation had to choose between acknowledging no religious holidays or providing equal recognition and inclusion for every religious holiday. This would require recognition of more than 50 holidays in November and December alone!

The Human Rights Tribunal noted that Christmas was as much a secular holiday as it was religious, and that decorations could be evocative of Christmas without being religious symbols. They found nothing wrong with festive lighting, poinsettias, tinsel or a “Christmas tree”. All of this can be done while being inclusive and respectful of the views of others. Other festive holidays and celebrations can be acknowledged if they pertain to resident demographics.

Click here to access the decision.